Purgatorio: Canto XXXIII
three, now four, melodious psalmody
The maidens in the midst of tears began;
compassionate and sighing,
to them with such a countenance,
That scarce more changed was Mary at the cross.
But when the other
virgins place had given
her to speak, uprisen to her feet
With colour as of fire, she made response:
"'Modicum, et non
iterum,' my sisters predilect,
'Modicum, et vos videbitis me.'"
Then all the seven
in front of her she placed;
after her, by beckoning only, moved
Me and the lady and the sage who stayed.
So she moved
onward; and I do not think
her tenth step was placed upon the ground,
When with her eyes upon mine eyes she smote,
And with a tranquil
aspect, "Come more quickly,"
me she said, "that, if I speak with thee,
To listen to me thou mayst be well placed."
As soon as I was
with her as I should be,
said to me: "Why, brother, dost thou not
Venture to question now, in coming with me?"
As unto those who
are too reverential,
in presence of superiors,
Who drag no living utterance to their teeth,
It me befell, that
without perfect sound
I: "My necessity, Madonna,
You know, and that which thereunto is good."
And she to me: "Of
fear and bashfulness
I will have thee strip thyself,
So that thou speak no more as one who dreams.
Know that the
vessel which the serpent broke
and is not; but let him who is guilty
Think that God's vengeance does not fear a sop.
Without an heir
shall not for ever be
Eagle that left his plumes upon the car,
Whence it became a monster, then a prey;
For verily I see,
and hence narrate it,
stars already near to bring the time,
From every hindrance safe, and every bar,
Within which a
Five-hundred, Ten, and Five,
sent from God, shall slay the thievish woman
And that same giant who is sinning with her.
And peradventure my
Themis and the Sphinx, may less persuade thee,
Since, in their mode, it clouds the intellect;
But soon the facts
shall be the Naiades
shall this difficult enigma solve,
Without destruction of the flocks and harvests.
Note thou; and even
as by me are uttered
words, so teach them unto those who live
That life which is a running unto death;
And bear in mind,
whene'er thou writest them,
to conceal what thou hast seen the plant,
That twice already has been pillaged here.
Whoever pillages or
blasphemy of deed offendeth God,
Who made it holy for his use alone.
For biting that, in
pain and in desire
thousand years and more the first-born soul
Craved Him, who punished in himself the bite.
slumbers, if it deem it not
special reason so pre-eminent
In height, and so inverted in its summit.
And if thy vain
imaginings had not been
of Elsa round about thy mind,
And Pyramus to the mulberry, their pleasure,
Thou by so many
justice of the interdict of God
Morally in the tree wouldst recognize.
But since I see
thee in thine intellect
into stone and stained with sin,
So that the light of my discourse doth daze thee,
I will too, if not
written, at least painted,
bear it back within thee, for the reason
That cinct with palm the pilgrim's staff is borne."
And I: "As by a
signet is the wax
does not change the figure stamped upon it,
My brain is now imprinted by yourself.
But wherefore so
beyond my power of sight
your desirable discourse, that aye
The more I strive, so much the more I lose it?"
"That thou mayst
recognize," she said, "the school
thou hast followed, and mayst see how far
Its doctrine follows after my discourse,
And mayst behold
your path from the divine
as far as separated is
From earth the heaven that highest hastens on."
Whence her I
answered: "I do not remember
ever I estranged myself from you,
Nor have I conscience of it that reproves me."
"And if thou art
not able to remember,"
she answered, "recollect thee now
That thou this very day hast drunk of Lethe;
And if from smoke a
fire may be inferred,
an oblivion clearly demonstrates
Some error in thy will elsewhere intent.
Truly from this
time forward shall my words
naked, so far as it is befitting
To lay them open unto thy rude gaze."
And more coruscant
and with slower steps
sun was holding the meridian circle,
Which, with the point of view, shifts here and there
When halted (as he
cometh to a halt,
goes before a squadron as its escort,
If something new he find upon his way)
The ladies seven at
a dark shadow's edge,
as, beneath green leaves and branches black,
The Alp upon its frigid border wears.
In front of them
the Tigris and Euphrates
I saw forth issue from one fountain,
And slowly part, like friends, from one another.
"O light, O glory
of the human race!
stream is this which here unfolds itself
From out one source, and from itself withdraws?"
For such a prayer,
'twas said unto me, "Pray
that she tell thee;" and here answered,
As one does who doth free himself from blame,
The beautiful lady:
"This and other things
told to him by me; and sure I am
The water of Lethe has not hid them from him."
"Perhaps a greater care,
oftentimes our memory takes away,
Has made the vision of his mind obscure.
But Eunoe behold,
that yonder rises;
him to it, and, as thou art accustomed,
Revive again the half-dead virtue in him."
Like gentle soul,
that maketh no excuse,
makes its own will of another's will
As soon as by a sign it is disclosed,
Even so, when she
had taken hold of me,
beautiful lady moved, and unto Statius
Said, in her womanly manner, "Come with him."
If, Reader, I
possessed a longer space
writing it, I yet would sing in part
Of the sweet draught that ne'er would satiate me;
But inasmuch as
full are all the leaves
ready for this second canticle,
The curb of art no farther lets me go.
From the most holy
water I returned
in the manner of new trees
That are renewed with a new foliage,
Pure and disposed
to mount unto the stars.